by Toni Kief
Like a forgotten man on death row, each day is spent waiting for the inevitable. No longer counting hours, days or months, my existence is trapped in a starless night. Strange women awaken me each morning for no other reason than to gather dirty laundry. They roll me, medicate me and pump all my meals through a tube. I have no purpose, no direction, no hope and few dreams, just the passage of time. All of my control has been relinquished; I can no longer sit, and I don’t recognize my hands in the futile attempt to wipe a tear. My survival depends on the labor of others; I have no power to stop this ridiculous dance. No longer blessed with the luxury of movement and conversation, I scream to unhearing ears. Each hour I’m further separated from who I thought was me. All my secrets stripped away with the sheets and the humiliation of a lingering death.
My wife, my bride, maintains a dutiful watch for hours extending into years. She arrives every morning and I hear her soft voice and feel her touch. She doesn’t know I can hear her clucks and howls in the halls demanding my care. She has no idea how people dread her arrival while she obsessively battles a lost war. Please stop my love, I won’t get better. I won’t be released back to the living. Even I see your life wasting away in this useless crusade.
Amazingly I have visitors, they talk empty phrases but I hear their hearts. In their silent eyes they whisper good bye, and pray this doesn’t happen to them. If I could only speak I would tell them to go and live while there is still life. Don’t just dream–do. Occasionally middle aged strangers come to sit next to my bed. I don’t know who they are, but when I close my eyes to these graying voices their heartfelt words morph into the laughing sound of my children. The distant memories return as I once again chase and tickle them, each an original with traces of me on their faces. The word “dad” drifts through and I can see love as that word fills my room with colors. My eyes open to the helplessness of their ongoing pain that I can’t remove.
Every pleasure of life is gone; even I don’t know why I open my eyes and take the next breath. I have nothing left but memories and they are fading. This slow relentless erosion is not my chosen closing scene. I exist, nothing more. I have nothing else to say, there are no words are left. My questions can only be answered by the great equalizer-death. I blink my eyes trying to project my farewells of love. Ready to stand on my own two feet; face the resolution of the other side. One thing I know, mortality is only part of the journey as I face the crossroad with a single path.
Toni is an author and you can follow her on Amazon.